Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Don’t judge unless you know


It’s rant time. 

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend and, through that conversation, I realized that it gets on my nerves, even more than I thought, when someone condemns a situation or circumstances without knowing all the facts.

Here’s an example. A woman finds out her friend’s husband has been cheating on her. Rather than get divorced, the friend decides to go to therapy and work through the issues so that she and her husband remain married. Divorce is not a word they believe in unless it’s absolutely necessary and maybe this one cheating incident isn’t worth a divorce. The woman gets all up on her high horse, proclaiming that she would never, EVER stay with a man who cheats on her. Once a cheater, always a cheater and he’s just not worth my time and I can do better and all that jazz. It causes fights between her and her friend, to the point that they can no longer continue their friendship.don't judge 2

Here’s a second example. A couple in their late 20s, dating for 9 months, decide to get engaged. A friend who’s been through a broken engagement decides that it’s too fast and starts pontificating that people shouldn’t rush into marriage and gives 4782 reasons why not. The friend makes valid points but the couple just isn’t listening. They don’t want negative opinions. They don’t care about negative opinions. They know what’s best for them, even if it might not look like it to outsiders (note: there are exceptions to this. We can talk about that another day if you’d like).

In both of these scenarios, there are dozens of detractors saying what they’re doing is wrong. They cite their own personal “experience” as the guiding force in their opinions. They don’t have all the facts. And not only that, your situation might not match the one you’re criticizing. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, you don’t know the conversations that have been had, and you don’t have all the information. You have speculation along with snippets. 

It’s difficult to make a fully formed opinion with minimal detail. 

And even if you have personal experience with a situation, you cannot, with any certainty, say what you will or won’t do when faced with it again. Because things change and you can’t possibly predict what other mitigating factors might impact your decision. Married to a cheater? Maybe you have kids now and it’s not so easy to kick their dad out of their lives. Moving in with someone you’ve been dating for 5 months? Maybe there are financial reasons behind it. Have your kids at a grocery store in their pajamas at 9:00 at night? Maybe the babysitter bailed or the milk ran out unexpectedly or a kid is sick and you can’t leave them at home while you get medication.

While it’s easy to say, with certainty, what you’d do in those hypothetical situations, especially if it’s contrary to what you’re witnessing, what you’d actually do is probably very different. Nothing is ever as clear cut as we think it is. You’re not psychic, and you certainly cannot predict your emotions. And, whether you like it or not, emotions, even more than money, guide most of our decisions. Trying to decide if you’re going to stay in a marriage (or even get married) is nothing like buying a couch. Sure, you can vet the prospects, list pros and cons, and you know what’s rational and what’s not, but when it comes down to it, you’re most likely going to let your emotions make the decision. Not a list on a piece of paper or statistics or research or an ill-conceived blog post.

If you can be stoic and rational about every emotionally charged decision, then good for you. I have mad respect for that because, honestly, I can’t. My heart is sometimes more powerful than my head. don't judge

So, unless you know all the factors behind why something looks the way it does, keep your mouth shut. I can’t keep you from thinking and judging (not going to lie, I do it, too, and it’s completely wrong most of the time), but if you have the balls to comment, you best be prepared for pushback and disagreement. Your opinion doesn’t always matter, it isn’t always necessary, and sometimes, even if you disagree, the best thing to do is just support your friend’s decisions.

(Note: this in no way applies to any sort of domestic violence/bullying/serious mental health situation. It is that severe, you best step in and do whatever you can to protect your friend)


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P.S. One more thing. We’re so quick to praise those who do what we think they should do; think about how we praise women who walk away from cheaters without a second look. But it is harder, WAY harder, to stay and work through an issue than it is to leave. We should be giving those women their due praise instead of criticizing them so openly.


  1. Linda Sheridan

    All true. It is human nature to be judgemental/opinionated. In my older years, and for quite some time now, I try and quell my thoughts and send the person or situation positive energy, love, healing lights- all good stuff. No one knows what they will REALLY do unless they are in that person’s shoes. Whether it is about kids, husbands,whatever. I call myself a lightworker! #newageterminology
    It’s free and makes me feel better, too.
    A good post. Thanks for the reminder.
    Love, SMD’s momma

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I try to refrain from judgement whenever possible, especially in certain situations. It doesn’t do anyone any good to throw negative thoughts.

  2. Kerry

    It is so impossible to judge someone’s situation. You may say I would never, but really you don’t know that you would never do something. Everyday is a chance for a new experience, new perspective that may change how you view something. Best to just support and let them work it out.
    Kerry recently posted…No-Bake Samoas CheesecakeMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Exactly. When it comes to relationship or parenting or emotional stuff, it’s not good to say “I’ll never” because really, you never know.

  3. Kelli

    I always have my own thoughts but that doesn’t mean it’s any of my business to share. I don’t have a single issue not one with a a women deciding to stay in her marriage if a man cheats. It’s her choice and her marriage, I don’t know the details of what happened so who am I to say leave? Maybe she ignored her husband while nurturing her career and he looked else where for compaionship or maybe she was so focused on her child her relationship crumbled while she wasn’t looking, both very possible.
    Kelli recently posted…My Un-GoalsMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Those are all very plausible reasons for cheating. And if you don’t know the reason, and unless you’re explicitly told, it is impossible to know. So passing judgment isn’t acceptable. Because it’s harder to stay than it is to leave.

  4. Kristen

    absolutely. always love your posts girl, you write things i think but cant seem to convey. love it.
    i used to be way worse at judging, i still do it, but not as bad, because it is so true. my husband and i broke up for a few months (before we got married) and i chose to get back with him and literally NO ONE in our lives supported it. my mum, my best friends, his family, everyone was against it. we stayed together, the longer we were together the more people were ok with it, most people were afraid they’d have to deal with heartbroken me again, but seriously. it was so hard to choose to stay because i know, without a doubt, i would have been a naysayer to someone else in the same situation because i didn’t know any better. now i do, and now i will never judge anything like that again. sigh. ramble ramblerson. lol
    Kristen recently posted…Growing Up Australian..My Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      This is precisely why it is impossible to pass judgment on someone else’s relationship. For what it’s worth, I know so many couples who broke up before they got married and have great marriages now. Me included 🙂

  5. Nadine

    Just yes! I completely agree with you, we can all have our own opinions on situations and we can think about what we might do in that situation….but we never really know until we are put in to it. There is a reason why people do the things they do and who are we to judge?

    What is worse is being the one in the situation making the decision and having all your family and friends turn their backs on you and judging you for what you are deciding rather than to support you and be strong for you. That is what people need, love and support…not finger pointing and judgmental comments!

    On point my friend….on point!
    Nadine recently posted…What Would You Do If…My Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I agree. In hard times, you need support and love, not judgement and condescension. There is nothing worse than the people you love turning on you when you need them the most.

      And who are we to judge someone’s choices? It’s not our lives.

  6. mackenzie

    Preach it, Jana. You are right on the money girl 🙂
    mackenzie recently posted…I Am Worth The StruggleMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks! And your most recent post is amazing!!!

  7. Tricia Coniglio

    It is true, we all have opinions and ideas of what we think is best for others when in reality we don’t always even know what’s best for ourselves!

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Most definitely! It’s so much easier to think and have opinions on someone eels life than it is ours. And half the time, we wind up second guessing ourselves and our choice so it’s difficult to pass judgment on another.

  8. Amber

    Yes, true. I try not to ever judge a marriage because I know I will never know the full story.
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s Okay Tuesday!My Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Truth. People give information they want others to hear. And it’s not always the truth, either.

  9. Amanda

    It’s impossible to know what you’d do until you’re in the situation… there are so many factors that go into decision making when it comes to things like this – it’s deciding what ice cream flavor you want for crying out loud! Like you said, if it’s abusive, then yes, you should step in. If it’s not… well, people need to go through situations and learn from them. I do get irritated when people bitch and moan about a situation (example: a guy) and then stay with them anyway. I mean, no one is perfect… but if you NEVER have anything positive to say then you probably shouldn’t be together. Derp. :/

    1. Jana (Post author)

      That last part bothers me, too. If you have nothing good to say then it’s probably a good idea to look at the person objectively and make some choices, even if they’re unpleasant.

  10. Jenn

    Great points! I’ve definitely been too judgmental in the past and that’s one of the things I’m trying hardest to change about myself – to support my friends even when I don’t agree with their choices. Because what do I know? Maybe it’ll work out ok, and even if it doesn’t, it’s not my choice to make.

    And we definitely make our decisions emotionally. I like to think I’m super logical, but then when the ultimate decision changes when I’m happy vs angry, it’s pretty clear that logic is giving way to something else.
    Jenn recently posted…Fracture Fashion – Style with Mismatched ShoesMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s hard to support a friend you know is making a bad decision and maybe sometimes it’s okay to speak up. But not to judge.

  11. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    How the F did I miss this? All true.

    Robots can make all decisions from a place of calm logic. People can’t. I applaud people for making it through tough situations either by leaving or staying and working it out. I’m not in anyone’s shoes but my own.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…August RecommendationsMy Profile

  12. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout

    I don’t understand how anyone can get so worked up about other people’s decisions — I mean, how many times of being shocked by people getting divorced does it take to realize that you never know the full story of what’s going on in other people’s lives? Gah. Don’t we all have enough troubles of our own to worry about?
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…Finding my place in a new townMy Profile

  13. Rachel G

    I believe there’s a time to speak and a time to not speak. Obviously every situation is different, people have different values for the way they live their lives–but for every story I’ve heard about stupid people trying to force their opinions on others, I’ve heard another story about someone saying how they are so glad that someone was brave enough to step up and give them good advice that they were able to listen to and it prevented them from making a costly mistake.
    I.E. my husband is not shy when talking to his parents and his brothers about financial decisions, he’s willing to give advice, and if they don’t want to take it, that’s their choice–but recently his younger brother took him aside to say how much he appreciated that my husband had the guts to say something–he was never taught how to handle money but now, because he has a lot of respect for his brother and was able to listen to him, he’s on his way to getting out of debt and is finding out that it’s actually MORE fun to live within your means. He told my husband that he felt like no one else cared enough say something about the situation to him. My husband had the same experience when an older couple that he really respected sat him down and told him that they saw some really unhealthy patterns in his relationship with his ex-gf–not right away, but eventually, he was able to also recognize the warning signs they were seeing, and was glad someone cared enough to say something.
    I think there’s definitely a gap between judging and saying something out of love–but sometimes it can be a hard balance to land on.
    Rachel G recently posted…Disappointing FoodMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I love this comment.

      You’re right. There is a time to speak up and if you can do it without judgment and from a place of concern, your words will be taken into consideration. It is a fine line to tread. But sometimes we need to speak up anyway.

  14. Najmah

    This is true! I met too many people who judge people instantly without knowing the whole image of the story. But, still I am glad to see some people who aren’t easily blinded and judge.

    By the way, I found your blog from the blog hop. Do keep in touch. 🙂
    Najmah recently posted…My Struggle To Eat Healthy During ExamsMy Profile


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